Wrist Pain - Health Center

Wrist Pain

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Wrist Pain – Basic Overview

Wrist Pain is a commonly occurring complaint amongst people all over the world. The pain is often caused due to sprains, injuries or fractures. Wrist Pain can also occur from long term problems such as repetitive stress, arthritis as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. Since so many factors are responsible for causing Wrist Pain, it can be difficult to diagnose the exact cause of the problem. Getting an accurate diagnosis done is very essential in order to seek proper treatment option. 

Wrist Pain – Causes

The Human Wrist is a complex joint which consists of eight small bones arranged between two rows.  Tough ligaments are responsible for connecting the wrist bones to each other and to the forearm and hand bones. The tendons attach the muscles to the bones. Any damage to the wrist tends to affect the tendons and cause pain.

Certain injuries which are responsible for causing Wrist Pain are as follows:

  1. Injuries with Sudden Impact: Most wrist injuries are caused when the affected person falls forward with the outstretched hand. This sudden injury can cause sprain, strain as well as minor fractions. Often, a scaphoid fracture involves the bone on the thumb and at the side of the wrist.
  2. Repetitive Stress: Any activity or work which includes the functioning of a repetitive wrist motion can cause inflammation to the tissues surrounding the joints. This can lead to wrist fractures impairing the movement of the affected region.
  3. Arthritis: Both kinds of Arthritis – Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis can deteriorate the bones of the wrist
  4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This syndrome develops when the pressure on the median nerves increases. This increased pressure can be felt along the passageway in the palm side of the wrist.
  5. Ganglion Cysts: These tissues occur on the soft tissues opposite to the palm.
  6. Kienbock’s Disease: This disorder generally affects young adults and leads to the collapse of the small bones of the wrist. This condition occurs when the blood supply to the bone has been compromised. 

Wrist Pain – Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms for Wrist Pain can vary from one person to the other. These symptoms are also dependent on the cause of the pain. For instance, a person suffering from Osteoarthritis may suffer from a dull pain. However, a person suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may be going through a pins and needles feeling throughout the wrist.

Knowing the exact location of the pain can help the doctor to gather clues regarding the cause of the pain. Generally, not all the wrist pains require medical attention. In case of minor sprains and strains; ice, heat and rest coupled with over the counter medications can be helpful. However, if the pain and swelling continue to persist or becomes worse over the period of time, it is recommended to seek medical help. Any delay in the diagnosis of the condition can lead to poor healing as well as long term disability due to the pain. 

Tests and Diagnosis for Wrist Pain

A physical examination is the first measure towards the diagnosis of the condition. The doctor may check the wrist for any signs of swelling or tenderness. The doctor asks the patient to move the wrist and can access the strength of the person.

Apart from this, certain imaging tests can be used in order to diagnose the condition.

X Rays are commonly used in order to obtain images of the wrist. The X rays can reveal any signs of bone fractures or osteoarthritis. The CT Scans can also be used in order to obtain images of the bones of the wrist and find any signs of fractures. MRI Scans use radio and magnetic fields in order to obtain the images of the bones and the soft tissues. Ultrasound tests can help the doctors to visualize the tendons, ligaments and cysts.

Nerve Tests are used in case a patient is suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This test is used in order to measure the electrical discharges which are produced within the muscles. A thin, needle like electrode is inserted into the muscle which is used to record the electrical activity of the muscle at rest and contraction. 

Treatment and Drugs for Wrist Pain

The treatment options for Wrist Pain can vary differently, depending on the cause and the symptoms of the pain. Medications such as over the counter drugs like Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen can help to reduce the pain. Pain relievers are also available as prescribed by the doctor.

Physical Therapy is used in certain cases. If you have been suffering from a broken bone within the wrist, the broken pieces need to be aligned in order to allow the bone to be healed completely. A cast or splint can be used in order to help the bone fragments to be held together while they heal.

In case of a sprain or a strain, the person may need to wear a splint in order to protect the already injured tendon or ligament from any future injury.

In some of the rare cases, surgery may be necessary for the treatment of Wrist Pain.

For severely broken bones, the surgeon needs to connect the fragments of the bone together with the help of a metal hardware. For carpal Tunnel Syndrome, the tunnel needs to be cut open in order to relieve the pressure from the nerve. For tendon or ligament repair, surgery is needed in order to repair the tendons and the ligaments which have been ruptured.

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